We create an enormous amount of waste. According to National Geographic, we are responsible for 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic annually, 91% of which is not recycled. Most things end up as trash, often having only been used a single time before becoming part of the permanent garbage landscape. Read how Swedish designers change the way companies think about waste.
It is imperative to decrease the volume at which we create, to interpret the needs of an ever-growing diverse global population through long lasting and versatile design. The other side of this problem is of course the waste we have already produced. Here the evident solution is to introduce waste back into the raw material loop, which would both benefit ecology and business. We need to look at waste as a resource and we believe designers are well suited for the job. The role of the designer is, after all, so much more than to simply give shape and color.
When designing the Odger chair with IKEA, Swedish design company Form Us With Love worked in close collaboration with a number of experts in order to establish an efficient process to turn waste into a resource; from material experts to production engineers. The most important factor to consider in this process was the user. It is the designer’s chief objective to uncover the actual needs of the end user, and what might compel someone to not only purchase a product, but see enough value in it to reuse it for its entire life cycle. In this case that product was a comfortable chair, easy to assemble with a mono material waste story built into its design.
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At the moment the Swedish studio has undertaken a number of projects with waste as the starting point. One of them is for Kingdom of Glass in the Swedish province of Småland, known for its rich cultural heritage of glass production. The problem that emerged here was the leftover glass. It was seen as waste for decades and for that reason was placed as landfill.
The glass was riddled with toxic heavy metals that slowly polluted the groundwater. Just in this region were about 100.000 tons of glass, sitting idly and creating a substantial problem. The glass was looked at as contaminated waste, not a resource worth exploiting, so it languished in landfill. Today we can change this preconception. Together with a progressive Swedish research institute and a large recycler in Sweden, Form Us With Love has formed a joint venture to devise a process to take the glass out of the ground, separate and neutralize the toxins and bring forward real commercial opportunities for the newly cleaned glass.
“Design will not solve all challenges of the future, but we can contribute if we are involved in the process of turning waste into business,” says Jonas Petterson, CEO at Form Us With Love
Swedish Designers Change the Way Companies Think About Waste is republished by kind permission from Form Us With Love.